IEMA welcomes UK Government’s moves to bridge the post-Brexit governance gap, and calls for evidence of “greater ambition”
The proposals for a new post-Brexit Environment Bill have been broadly welcomed by IEMA members – but they have highlighted the need for greater ambition to deliver a better environment over a generation.
In its response to the Defra Environmental Principles and Governance consultation and following the inclusion of environmental principles and ‘teeth’ for the new environmental watchdog set out in the EU (Withdrawal) Act, IEMA has given its support for the overall direction.
Martin Baxter, IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor, welcomed the overarching themes of the Bill, and offered advice on what must also be included in the published legalisation to ensure it achieves its aims: “The broad direction of the Bill is on track. However, IEMA members do want to see far more ambition than is currently outlined in the consultation if we are to meet the Government’s intention to leave the environment in a better state over the next 25 years.”
IEMA has raised concerns that the draft bill provides a narrative that there is a need to “trade-off” between the environment and the economy – something the IEMA response has labelled outdated, unfounded and unhelpful” as long-term economic growth relies on good environmental stewardship and innovation to resolve sustainability challenges.
IEMA has set out a seven-point plan to enhance the Act’s proposals, which will ensure it meets
the Prime Minister’s ambition for the environment. In its response, IEMA says the forthcoming Environment Act needs to provide, as a minimum, a framework for:
1. Legally binding goals supported by numerical targets, milestones and metrics for key environmental outcomes such as biodiversity, freshwater quality and availability, air quality and soils;
2. Five-yearly updates to the 25 Year Plan aimed at achieving the goals and targets, based on independent advice;
3. A fully funded and resourced five-year programme of activity that will deliver actions to meet targets and milestones;
4. Improved monitoring and reporting on the state of the environment using mapping and modelling that is more accessible and understandable to the public;
5. An overarching “duty of environmental responsibility” on public and private activity affecting the environment that changes the default so that e.g. government departments, public bodies, businesses and potentially others have a basic duty to act responsibly towards the environment, or to take account of the environment in making decisions;
6. Cross-Whitehall regulation, incentives and taxation designed to protect the environment and stimulate genuinely sustainable development and economic growth;
7. Effective, place-based governance and resourcing to allow communities and local and regional bodies to work together to protect and enhance the environment at a meaningful scale
Click here to read IEMA’s full Environmental Principles and Governance Bill response.